Monday, September 14, 2009

Homework: School of Thought: What Was She Thinking?

With age we get the face we deserve.
Homework: Choose any or all, or be inspired. ~List your five biggest worries. Now imagine how each could become a blessing in disguise.

My five biggest worries? And how they could each become blessings? Yeeeeeah, RIGHT. I don’t know how this could apply to worries stemming from a mind crazy with What-Ifs; from someone who claims ‘Just In Case’ to nearly everything. But, in attempt to comply with this assignment, and since it’s almost that time of year (and for some reason, the sobbing and missing and aching has gotten an early start this year), and this is indeed exactly what’s on my mind, I’ll share one with you.

What mother doesn’t worry about losing their child? Of course, like most other things, to preoccupy with oneself too much with this is likely to drive one batty, but it’s a real worry.

When I found out that my son was stillborn, I realized that I was in for a looooong haul, one that is, essentially, living a nightmare.

I think about the experiences entailed. Getting through the week, the labor, the delivery, the funeral, the burial – that was the finite stuff, the stuff with dates attached. It’s the After that haunts: waking up in the middle of the night, frantic, because I can’t find The Baby (this continued for years, even after the next baby was born alive and healthy), sobbing because I know where the toddler is, and where the newborn is, but where’s The Baby?; the physical aching of my arms and the physical but even more emotional torture of milk being involuntarily expressed for a baby who isn’t there; the continuing dilemma, arriving at any moment, which is answering the simple question, “How many children do you have?” (My standard answer is, “Five alive, One in Heaven.” But it’s a split-second decision: do I mention Taylor? Who is this person who’s asking, and how long will I know them? Do they need to know? In general, I feel disappointed in myself when I don’t acknowledge him; there’s so much of him not here, the least I can do is to contribute a few words his way.)

I think about what this means for me, long-term. Here’s the thing – it does get better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s horrible, and don’t you dare tell someone going through it that it will get better. This is something a grieving mother must learn and decide on her own. Because it gets better . . . and then it gets worse. But it would be a lie to say that time doesn’t at least soften.

I think about what this means for my family. My kids know that they’ve got a brother in Heaven. They know that his spirit lives on, and that we will be with him again one day. That’s such a wonderful thing to experience – to hear your kids bear their testimony of that principle, and know it to be strong and true. My kids know that families are forever.

It’s said that the baby who comes along after the angel baby is called The Rainbow Baby, because they are the calm after the storm. This couldn’t be more accurate of my daughter, due exactly one year + one day after her brother was born still (thankfully, I was induced early as to keep Taylor’s week his own). Just today, she and I were running errands together. As we drove by the cemetery, she asked, “Mom, can we go see Taylor for just a minute? Just you and me? I miss him.” We drove in and to his section as I asked her to tell me her thoughts. “I just … I just miss him, Mom. I wish I knew what he looks like. I mean, I really wish I knew how curly his hair is.” We spent just a moment standing in the rain together, looking at the flat gravestone, as I strained to stay silent but instead made some weird choking noise in the back of my throat. On the way back to the van, she said, “Oops!” She noticed that someone had placed a small gift on one of the baby graves, and the wind had knocked it over, so she took the time to make certain it was upright before we drove away. On the way out of the cemetery, I told her, once more, about the time when she was in my belly, and I was so, so very scared, and got a blessing from her Papi, in which blessing I was told that Taylor and ‘this baby’ have a unique and special friendship. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw her smile. I asked her if she agreed with that statement about their friendship. She does.

I think about other mothers whose lot is to endure such a loss. Close to Taylor’s grave is the grave of a man who is the brother of a good friend of my mom. This man’s mother and I have a special bond, because we are in, for lack of a better term, This Club (you, by the way, are not invited to join). My cousin Heather, my friends Lynn and Sandy, countless other women whose friends, cousins, acquaintances, have phoned or sent emails asking what can be done, what can be said . . . we all just know. Even when words fail us, it's okay. Sometimes words aren't needed.

I think of all these things, and how it continues. Tomorrow morning I will attend the funeral of a friend’s baby daughter who lived just ten days before returning to Heavenly Father. For this sweet grieving woman, I’ll give love, I’ll offer hope, I’ll share the connection. And I’ll cry, and pray that this will be the last time, knowing full well it won’t be.

Of my worries turned to blessings, what I hope is shown outwardly is exactly that: an unspoken connection for that time when it was needed most.













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19 comments:

i i eee said...

Thanks for sharing, even though it made me cry. My sister is in This Club, and still I can't imagine what it must feel like.

{{hugs}}

La Yen said...

I love you.
Word.

AzĂșcar said...

I didn't want to be part of your club anyway. Not even a little bit. But sometimes I'd like to maybe serve the refreshments and tend the nursery while y'all are meeting.

Travelin'Oma said...

I'm so glad I know you now. You've taught me a lot these past few weeks. This is what writing is all about, I think; sharing our worlds and learning empathy. Thank you.

sue-donym said...

You helped me when I needed it got my sister. You will never know how much that means to me.

Thank you.

sue-donym said...

FOR my sister. Sheesh.

Mrs. Organic said...

~j - I just love that about you. That you can see through and past the hard thing while also still living it AND that you offer comfort along the way.

Naomi Miles said...

Beautifully written.

Bunsies said...

LIke always-- beautifully stated. As mother's we always want to make our children feel better, to be able to comfort them and say it will be ok. I couldn't do that. Not being a member of your club, I couldn't even say that you would get through. I told Aunt Bonnie that I was so sorry that she couldn't make it better for Heather. It was a feeling of complete weakness, sadness, uselessness. You give me strength. Love you.

dalene said...

i love you.

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Yes, beautiful post.

Fig said...

My oldest sister died when she was 2 and I was a baby. 25 years later, I STILL freeze up for a moment whenever I'm asked how many siblings I have - you just never know who should get the full story.

We celebrate her birthday with angel food cake every year, and tie messages to balloons.

This is a really beautiful post. Thanks.

Vanessa said...

Such a beautiful post Jenny

Kalli Ko said...

You rocked it, and rocked me in the process. Love you mucho.

wendysue said...

She had me at the curls.

Such a wonderful post, thanks Jenny.

beans said...

i have to stop reading your posts at work (the only place i have internet access right now). now i have to wipe my tears and get back to work. i love you.

Nicole said...

Love you Jenny. Tell your family hello!

lisa said...

Love you too. More to say-but not here.

Kemp Kuties said...

Yours was the first blog I clicked on after returning home from vay-cay; I was interested in reading your new homework assignment...

I am the Rainbow Baby for my mom...


...They didn't have ultasounds & they didn't induce labor either. For two weeks my mom knew the baby had died (went in to doc b/c baby wasn't moving. doc couldn't find heartbeat = baby died. would not induce labor-too much harm to mom). Labor finally started and was "all natural"...my mom was told "it" was a girl...she was not allowed to see her - they didn't do that either...

...
...
...Elizabeth Ann Brown, born still on the 6th of January, 1974.

I was born 3 years later. Just recently my mom found a cassette tape of the prayer given during the burial ceremony - there was no viewing. I listened to this tape with my mom, and we sobbed. We sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed. Your hard month is October; mine is November (girls born early at 27 weeks) and my mom's hard month is January.

Anyways, thanks for taking up this difficult homework assignment. I, too, try to find ways to help preterm/NICU babies. I NEEDED to read this; I NEEDED to remember. THank you. THank you